Review by C.J. Bunce

The new Saurian travel simulator tie-in companion book Saurian: A Field Guide to Hell Creek is a combination of several great things.  It’s a non-fiction trip to a sort-of Jurassic Park.  It’s time travel–the kind Ray Bradbury wrote about in The Sound of Thunder, where you are transported back to the last years of Earth’s dinosaurs, specifically those found at the Hell Creek formation in South Dakota.  And it’s a true naturalist’s field guide, imagining that you are onsite, observing an ancient ecosystem firsthand.  Since we can’t actually do that, it relies on the next best thing: the results of research from published science from the current leading paleontologists.  If you have ever loved exploring the possibilities of the past posed by dinosaurs, this book is for you.

Writer Tom Parker begins with an analysis of the climate in the study location, and how it was compared to regions today.  Warm temperatures and prolonged darkness provide a unique location for Saurian, the forthcoming software that will take users on its time travel journey.  This book encompasses the data required to support the software, combining weather, flora, and fauna factors with newly-created artistic renderings.

In many ways Saurian: A Field Guide to Hell Creek is a realistic representation of the type of documentation you would produce as a student in a college archaeology program.  Before we can understand these dinosaurs, we must know about their habitat.  Here that means floodplains, swamps, and enormous trees, all supporting both flying, swimming, and land dinosaurs.  Floral and faunal phylogeny charts provide a scientific introduction to reading graphic descriptions, tables, and collected statistical data.  The faunal comparisons show the diversity of the animal population of Hell Creek, from insects and amphibians and crocodiles to flying creatures and the giant beasts most first think of when they hear the word dinosaur, from triceratops to tyrannosaurus rex. Descriptions for all the animal life illustrate how the animals live and interacted.

Artists Chris Masna and RJ Palmer supply the artwork for the book.  A large full-color appendix includes additional artwork from a variety of creators.

It’s a book 66 million years in the making, to eventually support the video game simulator Saurian once available in a final release version.  For any fan of dinosaurs and paleontology, Saurian: A Field Guide to Hell Creek is an intriguing, fascinating 176-page, full-color hardcover available now here at Amazon.